Fresh off Dennis Seidenberg’s game-winner late in the third period Thursday night against the Ottawa Senators, the Boston Bruins conclude their four-game road trip tonight as they travel nearly 400 km to face the Toronto Maple Leafs at the Air Canada Centre.
Despite netting only four goals in their last three games, the Black and Gold find themselves trailing the Montreal Canadiens by two points in the Northeast Division standings. Their 43 points are still good for fourth in the Eastern Conference.
Much like the Bruins, the Maple Leafs are slumping late in March having gone 1-2-2 in their last five. Toronto, however, is still clinging along in sixth place; one point ahead of the seventh seeded New Jersey Devils and three ahead of the Carolina Hurricanes and New York Rangers.
This is the third meeting between the two clubs in 2013. The Bruins took both matchups, including a 4-2 triumph last month, and have won eight straight against their divisional rivals. Boston, which is 25-5-5 in its last 35 against Toronto, hopes to increase that total to 10 by the end of this home and home Monday night at the TD Garden.
Gametime: 7 p.m.
Location: Air Canada Centre
TV/Radio: NESN/98.5 The Sports Hub
Records: Bruins (20-6-3, 43 points), Maple Leafs (16-12-3, 35 points)
Bruins’ projected lines
Milan Lucic-David Krejci-Nathan Horton
Brad Marchand-Patrice Bergeron-Tyler Seguin
Jay Pandolfo-Ryan Spooner-Rich Peverley
Daniel Paille-Gregory Campbell-Shawn Thornton
Zdeno Chara-Dougie Hamilton
Dennis Seidenberg-Matt Bartkowski
Aaron Johnson-Andrew Ference
Leafs’ projected lines
James van Riemsdyk-Tyler Bozak-Phil Kessel
Clarke MacArthur-Nazem Kadri-Nikolai Kulemin
Ryan Hamilton-Mikhail Grabovski-Matt Frattin
Frazer McLaren-Jay McClement-Colton Orr
Carl Gunnerson-Dion Phaneuf
Cody Franson-Mark Fraser
John-Michael Liles-Jake Gardiner
Bruins to watch
Of course, whenever the Bruins and Leafs meet its safe to shadow the two major components of the Phil Kessel trade, Tyler Seguin and Dougie Hamilton. For the time being, however, both Seguin and Hamilton are heading in opposite directions.
While he hasn’t recorded a point in two games, Seguin is being surprisingly productive on the defensive end as seen with his plus-20 rating, good for second behind linemate Patrice Bergeron. Hamilton, meanwhile, struggled in the last two games and saw his ice time decrease from 17:40 against Winnipeg Tuesday night to just 13:02 Thursday in Ottawa. But Dougie seems to bounce back every time he hits a swoon during his rookie season, and it would be no surprise if he did the same tonight.
Meanwhile, after leaving practice yesterday with a knee issue, Johnny Boychuk will miss tonight’s game and is day-to-day. Matt Bartkowski, who was called up from Providence last night on an emergency basis, will take his place on the Bruins’ blueline.
After sitting as a healthy scratch against the Sens, Rich Peverley returns to the third line with Ryan Spooner and Jay Pandolfo.
Leafs to watch
You didn’t think we weren’t going to look at Kessel in a Bruins-Leafs matchup, did you? Ok, ok, looks like we should. Ever since his slump at the start of the season, the ex-Bruin is red-hot over his last 10 games tallying 14 points (six goals, eight assists) and has recorded a point in each of his last six games. It’s safe to say that Kessel is going to get a lot of attention from Zdeno Chara, but with the Leafs having last change they might find a favorable matchup for the seventh year forward.
And then there’s Nazem Kadri, who’s been equally impressive over his last three games with eight points (two goals, six assists). The former first round pick bounced back and forth between the Leafs and the Toronto Marlies in the AHL the last few seasons, but is really making a name for himself with the big club. So much so where Don Cherry is still praising him on a weekly basis during his Coach’s Corner segment (fast forward to 4:35) on Hockey Night in Canada. Yes, kids, Kadri is pretty good after all.
With some Bruins fans wanting to trade Tuukka Rask (for whatever reason), Stanley Cup of Chowder is not providing any favors for the “Tuukka haters” when they ask if the Finnish goalie delivers in the clutch.
Speaking of trades, GM Peter Chiarelli tells CSNNE’s Joe Haggerty that it’s “Hard as ever” to make a deal in this shortened season.
Pension Plan Puppets examines why the Leafs – haunted by history and all – missed a golden opportunity to get Bruins’ great Bobby Orr (from May 10, 2010).
And the always entertaining Down Goes Brown examines what’s wrong with the Leafs.
Tweets of interest
I only have and need one today. Fresh off Rick Nash escaping any discipline after delivering a Randy Savage like elbow to Tomas Kopecky Thursday night, here’s Leafs forward Joffery Lupul – serving the second of his two-game suspension tonight for a hit to the head on Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman – asking this question to the league.
If someone can explain the decisions on what warrants a suspension and what doesn’t, please let me and the rest of guys know..
— Joffrey Lupul (@JLupul) March 22, 2013